Seven years ago today, I walked into this office for the first time. It didn’t look anything like it does now (thankfully!), but I remember well how overwhelmed I felt. I had no idea what I was walking into and couldn’t know just how difficult the road ahead would be.
I remember feeling both excited and overwhelmed, so grateful that God had brought me to this place to serve and wondering what the heck He was thinking bringing me to this place to serve! I had no idea what I was doing. You know what, though? I still don’t.
I was utterly convinced then that Christ would build His church. He would HAVE to. This was His mess and I was nothing more than His messy servant. That is still the truth today. I have no idea how to “build a church,” any more than the hundreds of authors who write books thinking they do. It’s not for me to know…Christ really does build His church and if He doesn’t, it’s not worth walking into.
Back then, I walked into the office at Memorial Baptist Church. Today, it is The Gathering…and I love everything about it! I am so grateful that God saw fit to let me sit at the wheel of this local expression of His Body while He did the directing. He’s brought us a long way from that cold, December day in 2006 and I believe we’re really just getting started!
So, as we launch into year seven, there are just a couple of things I’d like to say to the covenant members of The Gathering, Chattanooga:
First, I love you. I am so grateful for your love and support of me through the years. You have believed in me and followed my leadership through thick and thin. I don’t take that lightly. It is a great responsibility to know that I and the other elders will stand before God and give account of how we led this church. You make that so much easier and I count it a high and holy privilege to lead you in ministry.
Secondly, I want to encourage you to serve and engage in ministry like never before! There is so much that God has already done through us and I really believe that as long as we stay committed to the Word of Truth, continue making disciples and engaging in global missions with the Gospel, He is going to do more than we could ever ask, hope or even dream of! So, engage! Don’t sit on the sidelines and watch opportunities come and go. Let’s decide together that we are going to spend ourselves completely for the Gospel!
I hope to be here until I’m so old you kick me out and I break a hip in the process or I step into the presence of Jesus, whichever comes first. Until that time, let’s make sure that we are being the hands and feet of Jesus to our community and the world around us. That won’t happen if you aren’t involved. It’s our calling…let’s give it everything!
Finally, Love purely. By God’s grace, we have seen many new people come into our family over the last couple of years. As God continues to grow us, it’s going to be more challenging to know everyone. Don’t let that be an excuse. Make sure that you are always available and looking out for one another. Make it your goal to regularly get to know someone new. Look for ways that you can minister to them and make sure they know they are loved and welcome; that they have a place at The Gathering. Don’t assume someone else will do it. Who knows, you might just meet your new best friend in the process.
I can’t wait to see what God does through this ministry He is building. I’m sure it promises to be quite the adventure! I hope you’ll commit with me to love, give and serve within this body called The Gathering. Let’s recommit ourselves to being the healthiest church around, growing and loving each other, Chattanooga and the whole wide world.
Soli Deo Gloria!